Tuesday, 17 January 2012

LIFESTYLE: Review: Element: Ballet Conditioning DVD

My interest in dance-fitness workouts started pretty young, when me and my friend would sit and watch the Pineapple Dance Studios DVD whilst vegging out on sweets and chocolate, in an attempt to learn cool moves by some sort of osmosis.

In my second year at uni I rediscovered the fad as a way in which to keep fit whilst being unable to afford gym membership. Initially I was drawn in by Robin Antin's Pussycat Doll Workout which boasts 'the sexiest, most glamorous and fun dance workout you’ve ever done!' Whilst that may be true, in a fitness DVD which suggested you worked out in heels, gave handy tips such as 'Pussycat Dolls love to slap their booties' and even offered a burlesque routine - using a lesser known piece of fitness equipment  known as the ‘feather boa’ - I couldn't help but feel that Robin wasn't taking my regime all that seriously...

Recently I have decided to return to Ballet - after giving up when I hit 11, grew hips and discovered boys. Despite almost memorising the steps perfectly from 10 years ago, my technique and strength is pretty dire (I blame my ridiculous high heel fetish). So for Christmas I asked for Element: Ballet Conditioning with Elise Gulan.

You don’t have to have seen Black Swan to know that Ballet isn’t always the best thing for your health, lesbian psychoses and self harm aside, if done without proper training it can often do more harm than good; therefore I would only really recommend this workout to people who also enjoy regular lessons.

Elise Gulan is from the Virginia Ballet Company, and although America is perhaps not famed for its classical technique,  I’d probably rather her workout than one developed by the Bolshoi Ballet. Despite the slightly annoying way in which she calls the chest ‘the heart centre’ and repeatedly talks of the ‘beauty of a dancer’s grace’, Gulan’s workout really pushes you to your limits whilst building core strength and toning the body. The workout uses moves such as the tondu, the devloppe and rond de jambe, mainly utilising barre techniques, alongside pulse-raising centre work. It’s fun and varied and takes about 50 minutes.

I wont say it’s easy, and it will take a few tries before you can keep up with her, but anyone studying at grade 3 BBO level and above should have no problem with her combination of stretches, heart-raisers and Ballet dance steps; sadly I can’t promise the same for her overwhelming Californian enthusiasm.



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